Chapters 10-14

After the sudden death of her seemingly perfect sister, Julia tries to learn more about her sister's life while negotiating complicated family relationships.
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Explore the Words

definitions & notes only words
  1. anguish
    make miserable
    Christmas and New Year’s came and went like a slow and anguishing blur.
  2. vapid
    lacking significance or liveliness or spirit or zest
    “I’m sorry, but I don’t understand how a person can say they hate nature. It’s like saying you hate happiness or laughter. Or fun. I don’t get how someone could be so freaking vapid.”
  3. glower
    look angry or sullen as if to signal disapproval
    “So what?” I glower at her. I can’t believe she’s embarrassing me in front of this idiot. I feel the burritos hardening into cement in my stomach.
  4. sheer
    complete and without restriction
    When I get to the bottom, I kick the sand out of sheer frustration, and thanks to a gust of wind, some of it flies right into my eyes.
  5. seethe
    be in an agitated emotional state
    I try to read, but I’m distracted because I’m still seething about my fight with Lorena.
  6. keel over
    fall suddenly; collapse
    I also keep worrying that if Amá goes into her room and goes through her boxes, she’s going to find her underwear and keel over.
  7. transcript
    a reproduction of a written record
    All I can come up with so far is: 1) Go to Olga’s work; 2) Get her transcripts from community college; or 3) Swallow my pride and ask Juanga to get me Jazmyn’s phone number from Maribel.
  8. probe
    question or examine thoroughly and closely
    The few times I asked her she said business blah-blah, and since that is something I know absolutely nothing about and have no interest in, I never probed any further.
  9. sterile
    deficient in originality or creativity
    The building is so dreary and sterile that it almost looks like a prison.
  10. distraught
    deeply agitated especially from emotion
    I have to emphasize how Olga is dead and how distraught I am.
  11. discretion
    power of making choices unconstrained by external agencies
    “We are not allowed to release any records until one year after the student’s death. At that time, the college will use its own discretion in deciding whether, and under what conditions, a student’s information will be released to survivors or third parties.”
  12. regurgitate
    repeat after memorization
    The woman sounds like a machine regurgitating information.
  13. guillotine
    instrument of execution used for beheading people
    The quinceañera hangs over me like the blade of a guillotine.
  14. odious
    extremely repulsive or unpleasant
    I’ve been to many quinceañeras, and they’re all the same—gross dresses, bland food, and odious music.
  15. naive
    marked by or showing unaffected simplicity
    Even though Amá doesn’t understand me at all, I know she’s not doing it to make me miserable. I’m not that naive. I know she feels guilty for not giving Olga a party because we were too broke at the time, but why should I have to suffer because of it?
  16. gaudy
    tastelessly showy
    I don’t know who would want such a gaudy souvenir.
  17. assessment
    the act of judging a person or situation or event
    I don’t even know how he can make that sort of assessment with my jacket and scarf.
  18. frail
    physically weak
    Halfway down the block, an old man comes out of his house. I stop in front of him, not knowing what to say, the words all coiled inside my mouth. What can this frail viejito do to help me?
  19. withered
    lean and wrinkled by shrinkage as from age or illness
    His sunken eyes look worried, and I have a sudden urge to press myself against his withered, little body and bury my face in his shoulder.
  20. contorted
    twisted, especially as in pain or struggle
    I thought he was a creature covered in matted fur, his face grotesque and contorted, with giant fangs and bloody eyes.
  21. convey
    serve as a means for expressing something
    Everything about Maribel conveys confidence and independence, like she’s constantly giving the world the finger.
  22. loathsome
    highly offensive; arousing aversion or disgust
    I don’t think there is a person on this planet who would want to make those loathsome pizzas.
  23. moor
    open land with peaty soil covered with heather and moss
    With these majestic violins, you’d think we were in some castle on the English moor instead of a dingy church basement in Chicago.
  24. dingy
    thickly covered with ingrained dirt or soot
    With these majestic violins, you’d think we were in some castle on the English moor instead of a dingy church basement in Chicago.
  25. waft
    be driven or carried along, as by the air
    I can smell the beer wafting from his clothes and skin.
  26. monstrosity
    something hideous or frightful
    “Oh my God, that dress is a monstrosity, but you still look beautiful,” he says.
  27. annihilate
    kill in large numbers
    I wonder if Amá is going to cry, hit me, or both, because she looks like I annihilated her.
  28. waiver
    a formal written statement of relinquishment
    Some of the schools charge up to ninety dollars, and since I’m what they like to call “low income,” Mr. Ingman is teaching me how to apply for waivers.
  29. deport
    expel from a country
    “My parents told us we weren’t supposed to tell anyone. What if I send in my application, and then the school calls immigration and my parents get deported? Then what?”
  30. stigmatize
    condemn or openly brand as disgraceful
    "It’s a very stigmatizing word. I don’t like it. Same with illegal aliens. That’s even more repugnant.”
  31. repugnant
    offensive to the mind
    "It’s a very stigmatizing word. I don’t like it. Same with illegal aliens. That’s even more repugnant.”
  32. fend
    try to manage without help
    My parents could have been sent back to Mexico at any moment, leaving me and Olga here to fend for ourselves.
  33. astray
    away from the right path or direction
    “Fair enough. But I wouldn’t lead you astray. I really want you to go to school.”
  34. tome
    a large and scholarly book
    If—when—I become rich, I want a library so big that I’ll need a ladder to reach all my books. I want first editions, too. I want ancient tomes that I have to handle with forceps and rubber gloves.
  35. cliche
    a trite or obvious remark
    I hate the cliché that you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, because covers say so much about what’s inside.
  36. prose
    ordinary writing as distinguished from verse
    I mean, how do you decide? I love so many.... The Awakening? One Hundred Years of Solitude? The Great Gatsby? Catcher in the Rye? The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter? The Bluest Eye? Poetry or prose?
  37. jaundice
    yellowing of the skin from an accumulation of bile pigment
    “Have you ever read ‘The Yellow Wallpaper’? Ever hear of yellow fever? Jaundice? Yellow can be bad news, is all I’m saying.”
  38. paisley
    a fabric with a colorful swirled pattern of curved shapes
    “I think paisley is detestable and should be banned until the end of time. Same goes for pastel-colored clothing. Oh, and khakis are repugnant.”
  39. detestable
    offensive to the mind
    “I think paisley is detestable and should be banned until the end of time. Same goes for pastel-colored clothing. Oh, and khakis are repugnant.”
  40. surreal
    resembling a dream
    The moment seems almost surreal. I picture myself watching us from another table. I’ve never been in a coffee shop like this, and no one ever wants to get to know me.
  41. recoil
    draw back, as with fear or pain
    “My sister died last year.” I don’t mean to say that. It just comes out.
    “Oh my God, I’m so sorry.” He takes my hand, and I almost recoil.
  42. coax
    influence or persuade by gentle and persistent urging
    As always, she’s suspicious, but I’m able to convince her after some coaxing and whining.
  43. sari
    a draped dress worn primarily by Hindu women
    I’m in awe of all the beautiful and bright saris glittering in the store windows.
  44. pretentious
    creating an appearance of importance or distinction
    I curtsy and give him my hand like some pretentious aristocrat, which makes him laugh.
  45. aristocrat
    a member of the nobility
    I curtsy and give him my hand like some pretentious aristocrat, which makes him laugh.
Created on January 26, 2018 (updated January 30, 2018)

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